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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
TBC
Cast
Mads Mikkelsen
Jamie Sives
Gary Lewis
Maarten Stevenson.
Directors
Nicolas Winding Refn.
Screenwriters
Running Time
100 minutes

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Valhalla Rising
Mads Mikkelsen corners the market in gammy-eyed villains...


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Plot
A thousand years ago. One-Eye (Mads Mikkelsen), an enigmatic, mute warrior-slave, is freed from captivity and falls in with a party of Christian Vikings who set out for the Holy Land but cross the wrong sea and reach America, where they are overwhelmed by the vast land and its potentially hostile inhabitants.


Review
Valhalla Rising
Following the Pusher trilogy and Bronson, Nicolas Winding Refn — Denmark’s second-most committed auteur — turns away from contemporary criminality to deliver a dream of a Viking movie. Valhalla Rising is not the exercise in action-oriented ethnography we might expect from Mel Gibson (who has his own Norseploitation movie in the works) or a tricked-up genre film like Pathfinder (which it slightly echoes) or Outlander, but a hallucinatory, fable-like extrapolation from a single historical fact — a pile of stones on the Delaware shore, well away from where the rumoured Norse settlements in North America were supposed to be.

Mads Mikkelsen, with no dialogue, has to play a mystic archetype, and emerges as a monolithic screen presence, following his Casino Royale villain with another wonky-eye turn — a tethered god of violence who has psychic flashes of horrors to come. One-Eye is the film’s lead, and an emotional tie with a boy (Maarten Stevenson) who becomes his sidekick marks him as a hero, but he could as easily be an immortal trickster guiding this band of venal, violent pilgrims to a realm where they can be appropriately punished. Shot in spectacular Scotland, Valhalla Rising has a gorgeous deep-focus look which harks back to the Vincent Ward of The Navigator and the Tarkovsky of Andrei Rublev. Here, the past is alien and hostile terrain, with people reduced to brutal, impulsive behaviour because their environment, while breathtaking, is unbearably savage.

A cast of battered-looking Vikings show frozen faces in close-up, but are mostly here to die in a horrible manner — felled by arrows, disembowelled with axes, smitten by the elements. But it’s a slow, reflective film which builds from small physical details to a transcendent vision: Refn’s crime movies are theatrical and shot through with fantasy, and this isn’t an overly literal slice of horrible history. Many won’t have patience for it, but it will pick up devotees who’ll watch it over and over.


Extras

Valhalla Rising Valhalla Rising
Released: 30 May 2010
Director’s commentary, along with ‘making of’ and trailer.


Verdict
Valhalla Rising gets into your mind and stays there. You can argue what, if anything, it’s trying to say, but it is impressive cinema.


Reviewed by Kim Newman

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Valhalla Rising
Empire Star Rating

Unimaginative Dribble

This was a terrible film on several levels. The imagery forced upon the viewer was akin to using a 7 war axe instead of a hammer to hit a nail. It attempts to force its ideas into the viewers mind in a patronising way. If it want to be discussed I don't see why so much time has to be devoted to attmempting to explain its meaning. I believe it makes no sense for a film to try and establish itself as thought provoking and throw inconsistently and badly placed scenes. images. etc. to try and conver... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by moc1988 at 05:29, 20 December 2010 | Report This Post


Tragic. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by reminn at 11:42, 03 November 2010 | Report This Post


Fantastic And It Does Make Sense!!

WARNING SPOILERS This is a beautifull film Im so glad this was recommended I wouldve still loved it had I discovered it and watched without recommendation. The Blockbuster guy tried to warn me against but I trust Empire. Valhalla Rising is a bit trippy, the hero it seems is gifted with a supernatural talent for death and seeing the future and the soundtrack is eery with a slow drumbeat. I dont get why people cant understand what was happening in the film when they watched it I found it was clear... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Bighousewill at 18:17, 17 June 2010 | Report This Post


nonsensical drivel

Whilst I am no fan of mindless gore gratuitous over the top action in films I and am equally no fan of self important plot free non-sensical attempts to say something meaningful in the most obtuse way possible. This film is a complete waste of 88 minutes of anyone's life and I struggle to see how it was given a 4 star rating by Empire - to say I feel cheated is an understatement!!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Maneroch at 14:38, 09 June 2010 | Report This Post


A thinking mans Viking film!

This strange, atmospheric, haunting, slow moving Viking film will not be to everybodys taste. If your expecting brainless entertainment along the lines of 300 and 13th Warrior then steer clear as this won't be for you. It's a very well made independant film which is along the lines of Aguirre Wrath of God with a touch of The New World and Apocalpse Now. The film follows a mute character called One-Eye who starts off as a slave and ends up on a journey, accompanied by a boy, with a small group of... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by dannyfletch at 11:26, 24 May 2010 | Report This Post


Made No Sense.

When I picked up Valhalla Rising at my local rental store, I knew I had to get it out and watch it as not only it looks blood-thirsty but a interesting storyline. Boy, was I wrong. Hardly any talking, the action scenes are very small and the constant changing from day to night got on my nerves. Hell, it made no sense and the ending was terrible. Why does it need very loud music but quiet when someone tries to speak? Considering it's directed by the same man who did the brutal yet brilliant Brons... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joanna likes films at 09:16, 19 May 2010 | Report This Post


Made No Sense.

When I picked up Valhalla Rising at my local rental store, I knew I had to get it out and watch it as not only it looks blood-thirsty but a interesting storyline. Boy, was I wrong. Hardly any talking, the action scenes are very small and the constant changing from day to night got on my nerves. Hell, it made no sense and the ending was terrible. Why does it need very loud music but quiet when someone tries to speak? Considering it's directed by the same man who did the brutal yet brilliant Brons... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joanna likes films at 09:16, 19 May 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Valhalla Rising

I didn't think it was as profound and thought provoking as maybe it would like to think it was (I'm guessing Tarkovsky meets Malick by some of the shots Refn uses), but I thought it made some kind if sense (without giving too much into spoiler teritory, I thought the whole thing of being absolved of ones sins by going to the 'Holy Land', goes a long way to explaining some of One Eyes actions, particularly at the end). The fact that some of the other characters in the boat seem to have only g... More

Posted by Indio at 22:50, 18 May 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Valhalla Rising

I watched this last night. It made absolutely no sense whatsoever. A feeling echoed by one of the fellows on the DVD commentary.   "What did you think the first time you saw it?" "To be honest, I didn't know what the fuck I was watching!"   True story.   I will watch it again with the commentary, which should explain everything. Hopefully. ... More

Posted by MoBiUGeArSkIn at 10:33, 17 May 2010 | Report This Post


has this been released in the States? I think this looks good and want to watch it. Im only giving it a four because i haven't seen it. I will change my review if i like it. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by skybond at 18:04, 05 May 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Breathtaking, Adult, Movie Making!!!

My God, a good Viking film you say? About time. ... More

Posted by Deviation at 15:16, 27 March 2010 | Report This Post


Breathtaking, Adult, Movie Making!!!

I have the fortunate chance to live in Norway, and have an effection towards Norse mythology. However with films such as "13th Warrior", "Outlander" and the dire "Pathfinder" this intriguing concept has never been used to produce a film of decent quality...until NOW! First dont get confused by the trailer (as most of my friends were) this is not a swords and gore epic....don't get me wrong there is a large amount of blood and a great scene when one poor chap has ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jimmyfilmgod at 17:52, 26 March 2010 | Report This Post


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